<
>

Rams' fantasy sleepers: Cook, Richardson

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- If you’ve spent many of your valuable fantasy draft picks on St. Louis Rams in recent years, chances are your team didn’t fare too well in your league.

Much like the on-field record, the fantasy performance of many Rams has lined up with reality.

Since fantasy football is centered mostly on offense (depending on your league’s scoring settings), the struggles of the Rams' offense have made even core players like running back Steven Jackson a risky pick in recent years.

This offseason, the Rams spent plenty of money and draft capital to improve that offense. And though many of those pieces are unproven, our fantasy experts see plenty of potential for Rams to become serious contributors in the fantasy realm in 2013.

These snippets come from ESPN Insider, but I can offer a look at some Rams who might be lurking beneath the top tier of names and are ready to breakthrough.

ESPN’s KC Joyner ranked his top five undervalued fantasy tight endsInsider and Jared Cook ranked second on the list. Here’s an excerpt from Joyner’s analysis:

“His main issue in Tennessee was a relative lack of overall targets. It normally takes reaching triple digits in that category to be an impactful fantasy tight end, and his single-season career high in targets is 82. That should change for the better in St. Louis, as the Rams last year directed 85 passes to a no-name group of tight ends. Having a talent the caliber of Cook will raise that number into the triple-digit range, and it gives Cook the potential to post very good TE1 numbers for what amounts to a TE2 cost on draft day.”

My take: Cook and QB Sam Bradford have forged a quick, easy connection that has made Cook one of the stars of camp. Cook’s athleticism has long been intriguing, but it has yet to turn into the type of production that equals his ability. If the early connection with Bradford carries over, Cook could be as productive as any tight end in fantasy.

Joyner also went about ranking his top 10 undervalued running backsInsider with Daryl Richardson checking in at No. 9. Here’s some of what Joyner had to say:

“Richardson is currently listed as the No. 1 back on the Rams' depth chart, and given the issues that his competition for that spot are facing (Isaiah Pead’s one-week suspension, Zac Stacy being a rookie), the chances of Richardson keeping this role look pretty good.”

My take: Richardson certainly seems to be the most likely to start and lead the Rams in carries at this point in the preseason. He’s done nothing to hurt that status in camp, but when the games begin, he’ll need to prove he can hold up to the rigors of a larger workload through the course of a full season and that ball security is no longer an issue.